Mass shooting in Arkansas leaves grieving community without its only grocery store


A steady rain was falling outside Fordyce High School, but that didn’t deter an army of volunteers who raced to hand out jugs of milk and bags of groceries to a line of cars snaked around the parking lot.

In the days since a shooter killed four people and injured 11 others at the Mad Butcher grocery, this town of 3,200 people has been grieving and grappling with the shock of a mass killing. But the community has also faced the void left by the temporary closure of its only grocery store.

While the Mad Butcher’s workers have been cleaning up from the aftermath of the violence in the south Arkansas store, residents have few nearby alternatives. Though the town has a Walmart and discount retailers with some food options, the closest grocery stores or supermarkets are located in neighboring cities at least half an hour away.

“A lot of people don’t have the ability to get there or elderly people don’t want to go that far,” said Darrin Brazil, the school’s basketball coach, who organized the food pickup with two former classmates. “We just want to do that for the community for help people that really need that.”

The school, a city facility and churches are among sites set up for residents to pick up groceries while the store is closed and being cleaned up.

Grocery Store Shooting Arkansas
Volunteers hand out bags of groceries and jugs of milk to cars lined up at Fordyce High School in Fordyce, Ark., Wednesday, June 26, 2024. The school is one of several food distribution sites that have been set up to help residents after a deadly mass shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store.

Andrew DeMillo / AP


The struggle has highlighted concerns about “food deserts,” areas without access to affordable, healthy food nearby. Similar efforts sprung up in Buffalo in 2022 after a white supremacist killed 10 people at a supermarket.

“It’s a basic need that people have. It’s kind of bringing us together, to be honest,” said Roderick Rogers, a city council member and pastor. “We’re trying to respond with love to overcome this tragedy.”

The front of the Mad Butcher was still riddled with bullets on Wednesday as workers were inside cleaning up and making repairs. A makeshift memorial for the victims — including crosses, flowers and candles — was set up next to the parking lot.

A banner reading “#WeAreFordyceStrong” hung under the store’s name and green awning.

“Temporarily closed” signs were taped to the store’s front doors. “Please pray for our community,” they said.

Grocery Store Shooting Arkansas
Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of the Mad Butcher grocery store where a makeshift memorial — including crosses, flowers and candles — was set up next to honor the victims.

Colin Murphey / AP


Police have not given a motive for the shooting. Travis Eugene Posey, 44, pleaded not guilty this week to four counts of capital murder and ten counts of attempted capital murder and is being held in a neighboring county’s jail without bond. Posey was injured after a shootout with police officers who responded to the attack, authorities said.

Police have said Posey was armed with a handgun and a shotgun, and multiple gunshot victims were found in the store and its parking lot. Authorities have said Posey did not appear to have a personal connection to any of the victims.

Many of the volunteers stocking up bags and handing them out at the school on Wednesday knew the victims or someone who was in the store as the shooting unfolded.

“The whole city of Fordyce is hurting over this,” said Elvis Smith, the maintenance director for the school district. His wife was in the store during the attack and escaped through a back door.

Houchens Industries, the Kentucky-based company that owns Mad Butcher, said it expected to reopen the store in the coming week, Little Rock television station KTHV reported.

Residents driving through the school’s parking lot said they hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

“You definitely don’t know what to do,” said Jayda Carlson, who dropped by the school to pick up groceries with her grandmother-in-law on Wednesday. “Am I going to have to spend more money on gas to get groceries and stuff that we need?”



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